Pest controllers sue after gangway breaks and dumps them onto concrete

By Michelle Massey | Aug 10, 2010

Three Louisiana men, who were in the process of fumigating a vessel for pests, have filed a lawsuit after the vessel's gangway railing allegedly broke, throwing them onto concrete below.

Eddrain Williams, Aaron Powell and Tjaden Jackson filed a federal lawsuit in New Orleans on July 28 against Southern Route Maritime SA, Synergy Maritime PVT Ltd., Cooper/T. Smith Corp., Cooper/T.Smith Mooring Co. Inc. doing business as Cooper/T.Smith Gangway Services, Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., Pacific Bulk Chartering Ltd., Sheenzhen and Pacific Bulk Shipping (Cayman) Ltd.

The alleged incident occurred on Feb. 8. The men say they were carrying 40- or 50-pound boxes of fumigant across the gangway on a vessel docked on the bank of the Mississippi River in St. John Parish.

They claim the railway on the M/V Golden Sakura broke, causing the gangway to fall sideways and dump the men onto the concrete. Plaintiff Jackson, who was first on the gangway, was able to jump and land on the vessel.

The defendants are accused of being negligent in setting up the gangway, failing to provide proper means of ingress and egress to and from the vessel, failing to properly secure the gangway, placing the gangway on an area of the ship which was not designed to support the gangway, and for the rail being defective.

Each worker is seeking more than $750,000 in damages for mental and physical pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, loss of wage earning capacity, disfigurement and disability, loss of enjoyment of life, interest and court costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by Baton Rouge attorney John F. McKay of McKay Law Firm.

U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv02113

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